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Religion Ethics Newsweekly

Religion and the Republican Convention; Mi... News/Business. (2012) Concerns about Mormonism and other issues at the Republican National Convention; Grameen USA provides microloans to entrepreneurs. New. (CC) (Stereo)

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America 9, Gremine America 5, U.s. 5, Romney 5, China 4, Bangladesh 4, Syria 3, Dumas 2, Rodriguez 2, Bob Abernathy 2, William J. Carter 2, Mohammed Unis 2, Obama 2, Paul Ryan 2, Kim Lawton 2, New Orleans 2, Tibet 2, Minnesota 2, Queens 2, Microlending 1,
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  PBS    Religion Ethics Newsweekly    Religion and the Republican Convention; Mi...   
   News/Business.  (2012) Concerns about Mormonism and other issues at the...  

    September 2, 2012
    10:00 - 10:30am PDT  

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coming up, the many religious voices at the republican national convention as delegates nominate their party's first mormon candidate. and microloans to fight poverty in poor countries and rich ones including the u.s. major funding for "religion & ethics newsweekly" is provided
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by the lily endowment, an indianapolis-based private family foundation dedicated to its founders in christian religion, community development and education. additional funding also provided by mutual of america, designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. the estate of william j. carter. the jane henson foundation. and the corporation for public broadcasting. welcome. i'm bob abernathy. it's good to have you with us. the republican national convention this week formally chose mitt romney as the party's candidate for president. that makes him the first mormon nominated for president by either major party. in his acceptance speech, the usually private romney opened a small window into his faith and practice. our managing editor kim lawton reports from tampa on the many ways in which religion played a part in the convention.
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>> in accepting the republican nomination for president thursday, governor mitt romney talked more personally about his religion than he has so far on the campaign trail. describing his background, romney specifically mentioned his membership in the church of jesus christ of latter day saints. >> we were mormons and growing up in michigan, that might have seemed unusual or out of place. but i really don't remember it that way. my friends cared more about what sports teams we followed than what church we went to. >> in the 1980s, romney was bishop for a mormon congregation in suburban boston in lds tradition, a bishop is similar to a pastor. he oversaw other churs as well. >> we had remarkably vibrant and diverse congregations from all walks of life, and many who were new to america. we prayed together. our kids played together. and we always stood ready to help each other out in different ways. that's how it is in america. we look to our communities, our faiths, our families for our
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joy, our support in good times and bad. >> earlier in the evening, fellow church members talked at length about romney's devotion, his compassion and his service. grant bennett succeeded romney as pastor. >> mitt didn't discuss questions of theology. he found a definition of religion given by james in the new testament to be a practical guide. pure religion is to visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction. >> on wednesday night, vice-president nominee paul ryan a catholic linked his own faith with romney's. >> our faiths come together in the same moral creed. we believe that in every life there is goodness. for every person there is hope. each one of us was made for a
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reason, bearing the image and likeness of the lord of life. >> prior to this week, there had been few explicit references to romney's mormonism from the campaign, and there has been intense debate about whether the topic should be addressed head on. according to the pew research center, half of all americans say it doesn't bother them when politicians talk about how religious they are. two-thirds of americans say it is important for a president to have strong religious beliefs. and among republicans, that number jumps to more than 80%. mark dumas is an evangelical and close romney adviser on faith issues. he says he's been impressed by the depth of romney's religious beliefs. >> this is a really rock solid faith they think guides this man when he wakes up until he goes to bed. >> i trust his character, his integrity, it is moral compass. and finally, i trust his values. for i'm fully convinced that
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they mirror my own values. >> for the last six years, dumas has been trying to enlist other evangelicals to the romney cause, including those who say they don't want to vote for a mormon because they don't consider mormons to be fellow christians. >> the same people that will say that would have no problem letting a doctor of a different faith do open heart surgery on them, will fly on an airplane piloted by a pilot of a different faith, and then suddenly say i can't vote for a president of a different faith. >> republicans need the enthusiastic support of evangelicals who make up more than a quart of the gop coalition. ralph reed says it's wrong to think that evangelicals would be upset because there are no protestants on the gop tick zblet they're very sophisticated. they understand there are many candidates who are ju jews,
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mormons, others who share their values. >> the faith and freedom coalition held a high-profile rally to kick off the convention. numerous speakers use religious issues to rally support for romney. >> unlike barack obama, he actually understands that the basis of our liberty is the grant from god, and that no government can come between god and man. [ cheers and applause ] >> reed outlined an ambitious strategy to target 17 million evangelicals he says didn't vote in the last presidential election. >> we're going to mail them. we're going to text them. we're going to e-mail them. we're going to phone them. and if they haven't voted by november 6th, we're going to get in the car and we're going to drive to their house and we're going to get them to the polls. [ cheers and applause ] >> in 2008, the obama campaign
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and the left really outhustled us and did so very badly. but not anymore. >> another key group will be catholics. in the last election, a slight majority of catholics voted for president obama. in most recent elections, the presidential candidate who won the most catholic votes won the election. many catholics here at the convention say there's a lot of pride in the fact that former altar boy paul ryan is the vice-president candidate. they say the romney-ryan ticket offers much that resonates with their community. >> there are certain core, fundamental issues to our faith. that is the right to life, the right to religious liberty, to practice our faith free from government interference, and the defense of marriage and not the redefinition of marriage and family. these are core issues that are fundamental to our faith. but we must consider as catholics to be primary in terms of deciding for whom we're going to vote. >> there were several convention events to celebrate the party's traditional stance on issues
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like abortion and gay marriage. but even the most socially conservative delegates acknowledged that economic issues will and should dominate this election. >> the moral fabric of our lives is intertwined with the economy. and i do not believe that we, the people, the government, needs to or feel compelled to support every living being. >> we spend too much money. and it's hurting us. it's hurting us not only personally but globally. >> the tea party which has significant religious support had an active presence here. various tea party affiliates held a unity rally at a local evangelical megachurch. >> these concepts, tax enough already, don't spend more than what you take in, and follow the constitution are now a part of the republican party platform thanks to the tea party! [ cheers ] >> over the past several months,
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many in the moderate and liberal faith communities have raised concerns that cuts to social programs in ryan's proposed budget would hurt the poor. and some catholics in particular took issue with ryan using catholic social teaching to defend his plan. but former ambassador to the vatican and catholics for ryan cochair jim nicholson defended ryan. >> i think ryan shows a great deal of compassion, really. a real catholic value. because of the things he wants to change so that there'll be sustainability in these programs that help the people would really need it, so that we can afford it. out there when our children and grandchildren are out there, some of them who will need help probable. >> still, many in the faith community continued issuing challenges to the republicans' economic plans. the progressive jewish group, bend the arc, was in tampa calling for the wealthy to pay more taxes. >> we're representing a jewish community that cares a lot about
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social and economic justice. and what that means for us right now is that we believe that the top 2% earners should pay their fair share in tax. >> reverend samuel rodriguez is president of the national hispanic christian leadership conference. >> we can't neglect the poor. now, i'm not referencing the idea of government dependency for the rest of your life. neither am i an advocate of perpetual entitlement. but there is a responsibility the governor must take. and that responsibility is to take care of those that can't take care of themselves. >> rodriguez has not endorsed either candidate, but offered the ben diction on tuesday night. >> believing that god is not done with america, and america is not done with god. >> both political conventions traditionally open and close each session with prayer. this year, those prayers turned unusually controversial after cardinal timothy dolan, president of the u.s. catholic bishops, agreed to pray at the
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rnc. he later said he would also be praying at the dnc. rodriguez says religious leaders shouldn't shy away from appearing at events like this. >> our job is to conceptualize a prophetic witness, to speak from truth, biblical truth, higher truth, spiritual truth. that transcends politics. with that being said, i think it's fine if we can speak with integrity to both political parties, addressing both platforms as it pertains to the concerns and the values that we hold near and dear. >> while most of the faith-based rallying this week was christian, republican jews also pledged today make another ininroads in their heavily democratic community. they say obama is particularly vulnerable for his challenge to israel. >> one of the reasons why we're seeing a real deterioration of support in the jewish community for president obama. >> in a tight election, outreach
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to every group becomes vital. but amid all the mobilization strategies, some said the larger religion story coming out of this convention should not get lost. >> here we are, america, demonstrating to the world that we could have a mormon president with a catholic vice-president with strong evangelical support. how about that? you never could have written that story 20, 30, 40 years ago. but it convey as message that religious pluralism trumps religious totalitarianism. this is what makes america great. >> i'm kim lawton in tampa. >> next week we'll have kim's report on religion and the democratic national convention in charlotte. we also have a special page on our web site dedicated to our coverage of the conventions and the presidential election. you can find updates, interviews and other news and analysis of religion and politics. that's at pbs.org.
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faith-based groups rushed to the gulf coast this week to provide relief in the aftermath of hurricane isaac. in new orleans, the levees held but the storms still caused severe flooding, the worst of it in plaquemines parish southeast of new orleans. volunteers are providing food, shelter and help with cleanup efforts. chaplains are offering counselling and prayers. in other news, turkey urged the united nations this week to respond to the growing refugee crisis caused by the fighting in syria. turkish leaders asked the u.n. to set up safe zones within syria for those displaced. more than 80,000 have fled to turkey. 10,000 were stranded at the border as turkey struggled to find places to house them.
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meanwhile, opposition groups in syria said they found evidence of a massacre in a suburb of damascus. more than 300 bodies were reportedly discovered, the majority in the basement of a mosque. the dali lama says he's encouraged by signs that china's approach to tibet could improve under new chinese leadership. in a reuters interview, the dalai lama said he's heard from people inside china who say china's new president, set to take over later this year, could be more lenient. the comments came just days after two more young tibetans set themselves on fire to protest china's policy toward tibet and the dali lama. more than 50 people, mainly monks and nuns, have committed self immolation since 2009. most have died. in cleveland the trial began
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this week of 16 amish men and women. they're charged with hate crimes for forcibly cutting the hair and beards of their fellow amish. the case involves members of a small breakaway amish group who attacked men and women in their former community. the defense say the beard and haircuttings were personal disputes, but prosecutors argue they were religiously motivated, since hair holds religious significance for the amish. if convicted, some of the 16 could serve 20 years or more in prison. in much of the underdeveloped world, microloans to start small businesses are helping people out of poverty. the founder of the gremine bank in bangladesh, mohammed unis, won a nobel prize several years ago for beginning them. what about in rich ones say the u.s.?
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sam lazaro reports from new york and minnesota. >> the billboards and signs in the jackson heights section of queens, new york reflect dozens of languages, cultures and nashnas nationalities. it's a rich community diverse but with poverty. there's a story for that, too. a version of bangladesh's famous gremine bank. no fancy lobby here. there aren't even enough chairs. but from this and five other cramped quarters in queens and as far away as oakland, california, gremine america disperses dozens of microbusiness loans each day, all of them to women. most around $1500. it's the brainchild of u.s. trained economist mohammed unis who won the nobel peace prize for success with microlending in his native bangladesh. he wanted to prove the concept could work in a developed country. using foundation grants and
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borrowing commercially under a federal community reinvestment law, gremine america began in 2008 to wary customer exception. >> they were afraid what we were offering, low-cost loan, no collateral, no credit scores, no history necessarily of being in business and we would give them a loan. they were afraid there would be something that was going to come back in the end. we would raise the interest rates, we would do something. but we didn't. >> but word spread quickly, he says. already many borrowers like maria dell socoro have paid off first and second gemine loans. she opened her decorations business. she's fulfilling a lifelong goal to turn her crafting skills into a business. business is good and growing, she says. >> translator: it's good. i do all kinds of events. like birthdays, first communions, weddings.
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all the form work you see is done by hand. i do all of this by hand. >> she is among 11,000 women who have received loans from gremine america. >> when you were starting out in bangladesh working for gremine, did you ever dream that you'd be working with poor people in the united states of america? >> no. i think the world's biggest, richest country of the world. and the formula we developed that is the poorest country of the world. >> the united states is a country that everyone thinks has money, doesn't have any poor people. we have more than 45 million people living in poverty in the united states. >> and he says it takes much more than financing to help them break out of it. business counselling, keeping the books, paying bills, even opening savings accounts, which is required of borrowers. even that is often not enough. joe salvaggio, a former catholic
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priest who's worked for decades with poor people, says many who would be entrepreneurs fail because their finances are precarious. >> if they got sick or their kids got sick or the landlord, there was a storm and they got some physical damage or something. setbacks happen to people. so often they don't have one time to get a check to somebody, she put it in the bank and she had so many bank overdrafts that it ate up almost the whole $1,000 with bank overdraft charges. >> salvaggio runs microgrants, a minnesota non-profit that works alongside those that provide microloans. but he says new entrepreneurs often need something more to get them over the hump, so he gives them grants of $1,000. several microgrants clients are in mid-town global market, located in a long-shutrd sears
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roebucks store. >> they already had a loan inventory. they don't want any more loans. they can't make the cash flow. so a $1,000 injection of cash is really helpful. >> we use the money for like to fix the store, to like get what we need, like displays or like decorations for the church. >> we use the microgrant dollars for at the time was to more signage, redo our menus. our menus before was not professional. it was more of a homemade menu. >> i used it to purchase about 30 handmade senegalese drums which we use to offer free drum lessons every sunday. >> this man worked as masseur and part-time cook. his loan brought him closer to
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being able to live as an artist. he used a computer to make prints easier than making his originals. >> tell me that again? >> $140, and $70,000. >> some day he hopes to live off sales of originals. >> so you've sold three originals so far. >> yes. >> over how many years? >> all my life. [ laughter ] >> not surprisingly, he sells about ten times that number of prints per year. one microgrants client who's closer to her lifelong goal is chante holmes. she opened a laundromat minneapolis's economically depressed north side a few years ago. >> i wanted a business that served a need, not a want. i didn't want to compete with cell phone places, with red hair and fake hair and all of that stuff. enough of that. i didn't want the bargain clothing or gym shoes. >> her business began with small
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loans, but the real source of stability and profit come from a six figure u.s. army contract to service a minnesota-based unit. she got help from a local non-profit that helps minority entrepreneurs. >> she had no experience with government contracting. people are overwhelmed and daunted by government rules and regulations. and we literally held her hand and coached her through that process. it took four months after submitting an offer of her services to the government for her to hear back from them. >> however, the huge volume of new business required a commercial truck she could not afford. the $1,000 downpayment assistance from microgrants salvaged a major contract, she says. >> it takes money to make money, so therefore i need some help to get this piece to be able to get my bills to balance. i need to spend this first. and joe came in and made it easy
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for me. >> for salvaggio, holmes is a star client. a 41-year-old mother of three who was able to turn around an earlier life of chemical dependency and cancer. driven by talent that can be realized with a little help, he says, and often faith. as for his own motivation, salvaggio says it's based on christianity in its purest form. >> most of the people that we give money to, they've put a lot of faith in their god. and i don't have a lot of that kind of faith. but what jesus was doing, i'm founded in that. he was helping the poor. like pope john xxiii they asked him what he wanted to do with his papacy, he says "well, i'd like to see that the poor have a little less suffering in life." >> so far, salvaggio has disbursed more than $2 million in $1,000 grants. had he gets funds from foundations and many wealthy minnesotans he got to know from his days as a priest. >> these are entrepreneurs that have made money on their own,
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and they appreciate the principles of responsibility, accountability, production, getting business principles and delivering a quality product on time at a reasonable price. so they know that i can find people like chante or am bishous people like salvador that will sell their products and make money. it's got to be tied to work. >> gremine america ceo bogel,himself a successful entrepreneur who also founded add private equity firm, says it's critical small enterprises be nurse toured among low income americans. it's not just the best bet for people in poverty, he says, it's often the only option. >> they can't get a job. jobs are very tight. overtime is very tight. many of our borrowers do have jobs. they have part-time jobs. and they are using these business opportunities to increase their income. >> with its careful oversight and counselling, he says,
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gremine america's loan repayment rate has been 99 plus percent. far better than anything seen in big commercial banks. f for "religion & ethics newsweekly," this is fred desan lazaro. >> we asked fred why the people who make microloans give them only to women. he said they found in asia at least that women learn faster, work harder and are more apt than men to repay their loans. no word on whether that's the way it is in the u.s., too that's our program for now. i'm bob abernathy. you can follow us on twitter and facebook and watch us anytime on smart phones. there's always much more on our web site as well, including special videos, photos, interviews and news about religion and politics from the national political conventions. you can comment on all our stories and share them. audio and video podcasts are also available. join us at pbs.org.
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as we leave you, scenes from the republican national convention. ♪ amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me ♪ ♪>> major funding is provided by the lily endowment, an indianapolis-based private family foundation dedicated to its founders' interest in religion, community development and education. additional funding also provided by mutual of america, designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. the estate of william j. carter, the jane henson foundation, and
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the corporation for public broadcasting.
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